Monday, October 27, 2008

Former Chicago School Chief Flunks Obama-Ayers Education Efforts

Paul Vallas was the smartest and hardest working person in Illinois state government when I worked for the Illinois legislature from 1984-90. In those days, Vallas headed the Economic & Fiscal Commission. Mayor Richard Daley later tapped him to become the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools and lead an overhaul of the troubled school system. Then-State Senator Barack Obama and his domestic terrorist buddy, William Ayers, got in on the act through their nonprofit work at the Chicago Annenberg Foundation. Vallas, a Democrat, gave a failing grade to their efforts according to the New York Post. Ayers and Obama actually undermined his reform efforts and funneled very little of the money they raised into the classrooms according to Vallas. The Post's Carl Campanile writes:

Chicago's former schools chief has flunked the education foundation headed by Barack Obama and founded by 1960s terrorist Bill Ayers - saying it failed to monitor projects and funded school "reform" groups that campaigned against boosting academic standards.

"There was a total lack of accountability. If you went back and asked, you'd be hard-pressed to find out how the money was spent," said Paul Vallas, the city's school superintendent when Obama chaired the Chicago Annenberg Foundation from 1995 to 1999.

Annenberg spent $49.5 million, mostly on grants to 211 public schools that partnered with community-based groups. But despite collecting millions, those schools performed no better than other public schools, a study found.

Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois and an ex-Weather Underground bomber, wrote the grant that won the Windy City funding from the national Annenberg Challenge. He was a key adviser to the Chicago Annenberg board.

While much debate has centered on Obama's relationship with Ayers, there's been virtually no discussion about how the Annenberg schools performed.

"Very little of the money found its way directly into the classroom," Vallas said.
Most frustrating, Vallas said, was that Annenberg under Obama and Ayers funded groups that fought his mission, under Mayor Richard Daley, to impose uniform standards and stricter accountability in low-performing schools.

Many of Vallas' goals were later adopted by Mayor Bloomberg in Big Apple schools.
"Many of the school-reform groups viewed greater accountability as an infringement of local control. Some opposed ending social promotion and grade retention," Vallas said.

Obama defended the foundation's performance, saying it dispensed its funds to help struggling programs and train teachers.

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